The top 10 fundamentals needed for a great golf swing

Golf Instructor adjusting young boy’s grip

A great golf swing starts with these fundamentals.

Getty Images

I teach a lot of beginners. I have had many golfers take their first lesson with me.

I love teaching beginners because I know if I can get them set up well with a good grip and posture the ball will get in the way and the ball will fly.

While hand-eye coordination is nice, I don’t think it is as important for golf as maybe some other sports due to the fact that the ball is sitting still when you hit it and a good setup is more important than effort relying on being good at sport in general.

If you have tried golf and not had the success you wanted, take a lesson with a good teacher who likes teaching beginners and if you can get set up well, good things will happen.

The fundamentals that you need are learned and not always intuitive.

1. Lead hand grip

Your lead hand grip needs to be in the fingers (likely not comfortable) and as your arm hangs (likely not comfortable too, sorry!).

When you hold the grip properly in your fingers there will not be any gap between your fingers and the circle they form around the grip of the club. It has nothing to do with just grabbing the club in the most comfortable position.

Your lead hand should be as your arm hangs so that you can see some knuckles relative to the degree that your arm hangs palm facing in.

Your thumb should NOT be straight down the center of the grip in most cases and it should be off center. Many golfers are a bit surprised to learn that their thumb should not be down the center of the grip. For a right-handed golfer, the left-hand thumb should be right of center.

2. Trail hand grip

Your trail hand grip should cover the thumb of your lead hand and be secure but not tight. You can overlap or interlock one finger but the ring finger of your trail hand should be on the physical grip of the club.

If you have really small hands this may be difficult and in that case, you may consider a 10-finger grip.

The thumbprint of your trail hand should be on the grip of the club but its location may vary based upon your desired ball curvature.

3. Posture

Proper golf posture should be bent forward from the hips so that your chest of over your toes so that your arms can truly hang with your hands directly below your shoulders. Proper posture will help the club get down to the ground properly.

Many newer golfers aren’t comfortable with bending forward enough from the hips. It can be a bit uncomfortable to truly bow properly and have your eyes get closer to the ground. This is correct and will help with balance and power.

Incorrect posture where you bend your knees too much and squat will often produce topped and thin shots and difficulty staying in balance. Don’t confuse comfort with correct.

4. Stance Width

When the ball is on the ground stance width should be approximately hip width and not wider other than with your driver. A stance that is too wide will lead to too much lateral motion and turn into a sway. If your feet are the right width it is almost impossible to sway.

5. Backswing path

Every setup and swing are different and best when how each person is built is considered. A good backswing is generally circular in motion which allows rotation and allows the club to get around enough to return to the ball on the proper downswing path. Keeping your lead underarm close to your chest on your backswing will help to stabilize the club face and coordinate arm swing with body rotation.

6. Backswing length – It depends

Your maximum backswing length should reflect your flexibility level. You do not want to swing your club past your point of flexibility as it will make it very difficult to make solid contact as you will likely come out of your posture to avoid injury or straining.

7. Down to the ground

Once you are set up well and make a circular backswing to the length that your body will allow, if the ball is on the ground, you need to get the club down to the ground by allowing both arms, in particular your trail arm, to straighten down toward the ground as if you were throwing the club head into the turf. While it may be counter-intuitive, you do not need to lift or help the ball into the air but make sure your club hits the turf.

8. Proper release

On your forward swing, you want to release the club head and allow it to swing. This certainly is influenced by having a proper grip position for you.

Avoiding tension in your hands, wrists and arms will make this so much easier. When you allow the club head to release the club face will be more square at impact and the club will be moving at a higher rate of speed.

A good sign you are releasing the club head well is if you hear a swoosh noise at the bottom of your swing when the club is close to the ground.

What is TheStack swing training system, and how can it benefit you? The co-founder explains
By: Jessica Marksbury

9. Speed

Once you have the set up building blocks and a solid swing you want to add speed. I will add speed to a fundamentally sound swing, but not until then. One of my favorite speed-generating training systems is the stack system. You can also do a swoosh drill with your club upside down and listen for the grip end to make the maximum noise possible.

10. Balance

Balance is the glue that holds all the fundamentals together. You can have the perfect setup and swing with speed and if you lose your balance it can certainly ruin great contact. You want to be in balance at address, throughout your swing and at the end of the swing as well. One of my favorite balance drills is practice swings with feet together. This requires balance throughout the swing to be able to maintain this position.

The building blocks to a successful set and swing are the keys to success and consistency. There are many of these skills that people think they do, but many do not.

A proper grip that is in the fingers and in a proper position to deliver a square club face is not intuitive and in most cases not comfortable until you see the ball fly and then it quickly becomes more so.

Same with posture in that proper golf posture may not be intuitive and in many cases is more from the hip than the knees that many golfers default to without coaching. Pay special attention to these building blocks to have a repeatable swing that holds up under pressure.

generic profile image